Shadow: I give up on remembering which round it is. Anyway, this time it's Slideshipping/Sideshipping (they weren't very clear on the spelling) – Anzu x Shizuka.

Warnings: Contains yuri, yaoi and het mentions. (Wow, I actually managed all three in one oneshot?) Don't like, please don't read.


Inconsequential

The fog was a fluffy, impenetrable blanket, thick and damp in the air. It cloaked everything it touched, drawing people into its never-ending mass and swallowing them whole. It blinded those lost within it, cutting off sight barely half a metre away from the tip of each person's nose.

Anzu felt quite lost, adrift in an ocean of swirling currents, wandering to and fro within her clouded kingdom with but a single human hand to keep her grounded, warm and soft and reassuring. Violet eyes kept her company in the fog, Yugi a colourful companion in her world of white.

They wandered together.


Whether he did it intentionally or not, Yami no Yugi, Pharaoh and spirit of the Millennium Puzzle, certainly knew how to grab everyone's attention. Whether it was in the dueling arena or the shopping mall, the game shop or the school hallway, the spirit many simply called 'Yami' attracted the gazes of nearly all around him seemingly without any effort on his part whatsoever.

Today was no exception. It was the middle of Spring, the weather mild and relatively sunny. Some bright spark within Yugi-tachi had suggested a picnic to celebrate the good weather one weekend and everyone else had readily agreed, and so they'd all brought their food along and were busy setting out picnic boxes and blankets, chasing Jou and Honda away from the food when they tried to start eating too soon. It was a little after lunchtime and the sun was still high in the sky, children squealing in the play-park while their mothers kept a watchful eye on them. Yugi had given control of the shared body to his infamous darker half and, like it or not, the rest of their little friendship circle was watching with at least one eye as the once-pharaoh neatly spread out a blanket on a patch of green grass. For a few yards around a few people passing by were casually observing the cutting figure and Anzu Mazaki, situated less than half a quarter of that distance away, was sitting at a picnic table propping her chin up with one elbow, giving the boy her complete and undivided attention.

He never once looked up from what he was doing.

Anzu couldn't quite work out why Yami was getting all the notice. Well, aside from how handsome he was. And how famous he was. Yes, aside from all that. This was Domino City, where famous game-players crossed the street in front of you and you could run up to them and shake their hand – fame only got you so much focus. Regular Domino residents didn't zoom in on famous individuals as much as the outside world.

And…it wasn't as if Yami was wearing anything stunningly outrageous, either. Black leather pants moulded quite frankly a gorgeous ass, long legs, lean with muscle. He wore a loose sleeveless top – it was made out of some dark shimmer-y material, sometimes red, sometimes black. Numerous belts draped around his hips. He wore three metal bands, two around his wrists, one around one upper arm. His other side had a golden bangle on it: a snake coiled up to nearly his shoulder, fangs bared in a hiss. His neck was unusually bare – didn't Yugi always wear a collar? It was…odd, to say the least, to see him without one.

Anzu sighed, batting away Jou's hand when her blond friend made another attempt for the food within the hamper she was guarding. Maybe she'd just have to chalk all the attention up to the fact Yami had used to be a king. He was certainly impressive enough.

Jounouchi whined as he was deprived of food yet again. His best friend Honda mocked him with his usual glee, Otogi joining in with an abandon – and then both boys shut up promptly the moment Shizuka approached, and gave her big brother a hug. The girl was up for the weekend, and had delightedly agreed to attend the picnic – as if Jou would have left her otherwise. He adored his little sister. Shizuka, noticing Anzu's attention for a moment, smiled warmly at her over Jou's shoulder.


Ages past, and Anzu could feel the dampness in the air seep into her hair, her clothing becoming wet due to the moistness all around, clinging to her throat when she breathed in. Yugi smiled at her sympathetically when she raked a hand back through dark strands she just knew would look awful wet. She allowed herself a moment to mourn her appearance.

"…Does my hair look weird?" She asked Yugi, pausing a moment to look at the other teen.

"You're asking me?" Yugi gave a soft, gentle laugh. "Anzu, I have the strangest hair in all Japan."

"Hey, I like your hair." She defended her friend from himself. "But – honestly," She let go of Yugi's hand, giving a half-conscious twirl, "does my hair look fine? The fog's ruining it, I just know it."

"It looks great, Anzu." Another one of those lovely, kind smiles, the kind Yugi always had, that he gave to his friends. "You always look perfect."

Anzu blushed, a little taken aback by the compliment. She'd received them before from Yugi, but she couldn't help but wonder. What if – what if it hadn't been Yugi who had said the words, but his other? That darker one. It…was hard to tell the switch sometimes, and – and – the other Yugi was just so –

As if she'd heard her mental plea, Yugi's wide eyes narrowed somewhat, darkened. When 'Yugi' stood a little straighter Anzu felt her breath catch, her heart beating just a little faster in her chest. Yes, she might only be a silly little girl with a crush, but it was her crush and –

And the fog billowed about them and 'Yugi' took a step back from the almost pleading hand she outstretched to him, and the spirit of the Puzzle was lost from her sight.


The sun climbed a little higher in the sky and eventually everything was set out on the table and grass. Anzu abandoned the hamper she was guarding to the ravages of Jou and Honda, and took a seat on the blanket where a quiet Yami was sitting, staring into the blue sky above with a distracted air. With her she took a plate of chicken drumsticks; she offered the plate to the quiescent spirit.

"Would you like one?"

Yami looked at her, startled – apparently he hadn't even notice her sit down. "Thank you." Delicately he took one of the chicken pieces offered her, and promptly went back to looking at the sky. Anzu felt a flash of irritation that she was so easily dismissed followed quickly by a pang of distress and envy – was the sky really all that much more interesting than she?

A familiar voice from behind them, ringing tones easily carrying across the sarcasm evident in every syllable spoken: "What a wonderful little gathering we have here…"

Jounouchi had abandoned his food the moment the first word had been spoken, scrambling up from where he'd been stuffing his face at the picnic table and brandishing a half-eaten pizza slice at the 'intruder' in their midst. "Kaiba!" A chunk of cheese and peppers slid off the slice, and hit the ground below with a wet plop.

The named brunet ignored him, blue eyes razing the group gathered around their picnic until they fell on Yami, still sitting beside Anzu on the blanket. Slowly, unhurriedly, Yami trailed his own gaze away from the blue above to meet the much more earthily colour looking his way. "Was there something you wanted, Kaiba?" His tone was cool.

"I've been looking for you." Kaiba was just as icy calm, long strides easily eating up the distance separating them, ignoring a spluttering Jounouchi.

Yami rose from the ground with all the grace one would expect from a former monarch, unwilling to remain seated and have his rival tower over them. "Oh?" Anzu remained sitting – she hated remaining on the ground, but she didn't want to stand and draw Kaiba's infamous glare upon herself. Even when they seemed so engrossed in one another, a glaring match. Even when they stood so close…

A glitter and blur of black as Kaiba suddenly snatched something out of his pocket and a low sound of surprise as Yami suddenly found himself yanked forward by the neck, something coiling around his throat as Kaiba suddenly got so much closer. Jou made as if to leap forward at Yami's cry but Honda got to the blond first with a heavy hand on his arm. Where Kaiba and Yami were concerned the message was clear: it's safer not to get involved.

Yami raised a hand to his throat, eyes widening somewhat as he felt a familiar buckle under his fingertips, smooth leather that Kaiba had put in his place. Anzu stifled a gasp. His missing collar…

Kaiba still hadn't withdrawn from Yami though, not a step. His blue eyes were cold and glittering, his face still so close to the spirit's his lips were inches from the shell of the other's ear. "You left this at the manor last time we…dueled." Yami shivered lightly at the hot gust of air across his skin, the long fingers still resting on his neck.

Anzu felt hot watching them, a little embarrassed, tight. A little jealous, uncomfortable. From the corner of her eye she could see Otogi smirking. Jou looked baffled, Honda looked just as confused. Anzu didn't look at Shizuka.


Anzu searched for him for what had to be hours in the fog. Sometimes she saw shadows just ahead of her and she raced after them, but their warped shapes soon dissolved and she found herself chasing after vanished spectres. There was no clue, no hope, and she was utterly lost. Every time she thought she saw just a hint of something she went after it, but long before she had ever reached her goal her 'something' changed, and became nothing but smoke in her grasp, insubstantial as the wind.

Anzu stood alone, bewildered, and wondered where her grounding had gone.


The food had been swept off the table, the picnic hampers dumped unceremoniously on the blankets, and Kaiba had led Yami to the table by the elbow so that they could have a duel. Neither male had brought their duel disks.

More than a little sulky, feeling rejected, Anzu stormed off to sit on one of the empty swings in the play-park not so far away, dragging her feet in the dust at the dip of the swing. It wasn't fair. Even Yami's rival got more attention than she did.

"Not interested in the game?"

With a jolt Anzu snapped out of her brooding, a little startled to find the swing next to hers occupied, a familiar figure with trailing auburn hair swinging back and forth while waiting for an answer. "No."

"Don't you want to see who'll win?" Shizuka wasn't looking directly at her, concentrating on the loud figure of her brother in the distance, Jou having settled himself at Yami's side for the duration of the duel.

"Yami'll win." Anzu's voice was bleak; she too looked over at the duel, at the intense concentration on Yami's face, the crackle between the two opponents she could feel metres away.

"How do you know?" Shizuka swung a little higher.

"Yami always wins."

"True…"

Anzu sighed, resting her forehead against the cold metal of the sing's chain. It wasn't fair, it really wasn't. Yami was so close, so real, so tangible she could reach out and touch him should she run over to him now, clutch his arm, peer over his shoulder at the worn cards on the wooden table. He was so very, very there, and so quite, quite unattainable. Why?

First and foremost, there was Yugi.

I wish -

"They'd make a very handsome couple, those two, if they ever got together." Shizuka made another observation as she slowed her swing, dragging her feet much like Anzu was doing so she longer soared in the sky. The younger girl looked at her brunette companion, hair dangling over her face.

"Who?" Anzu didn't really need to ask. The two figures playing together not so far away radiated charisma, good luck, good looks. Dignity. Power. Pride. She didn't look at Shizuka, pretending to focus on the duel, even though she had little chance of following it properly at such a distance.

"Kaiba-san and the Pharaoh." Shizuka wasn't as blind as many thought she was…

Anzu gave another sigh, pressing her head a little harder against the chain. She hoped it would leave a mark on her face, hoped it would cut through her skull and kill her so she wouldn't have to sit there and – and –

And what, Anzu?

And wonder whose house Yami no Yugi would be spending the night at. Wonder if Yugi minded. Wonder if Yugi even knew –

Of course he'd know? How couldn't he?

But it was all supposition –

But Yami and Kaiba were still sat so very, very close, and Anzu had been the closest of all the group to the two when Kaiba had spoken in that deadly soft voice with those bright, unforgettable eyes. And she'd seen Yami's response. And she'd seen Otogi's smirk. And she'd known exactly the same thought had went through the black-haired teen's mind that had gone through hers.

There'd always been that spark between Yami and Kaiba…

Kaiba had things so much easier. He hadn't been Yugi's friend for years, wasn't even Yugi's friend now. Kaiba wouldn't have to deal with that awkwardness, with the inevitable fallout a friend would have to muddle through. He didn't have to worry about hurting someone's feelings; anyone who stepped into a relationship with Kaiba wouldn't expect him to be kind – Kaiba was never kind. Kaiba was blunt; there'd be no issues faltering when explaining exactly what he wanted. Kaiba didn't have to worry about snaring his interest's attentions – he'd already had them a long, long time beforehand.

Kaiba was so goddamn possessive. He just marched in and laid claims to things he had no right to lay claim to, jealously guarding them from supposed dangers with infuriating arrogance. Of Kaiba Seto wanted something by God he got it – whatever the price. How long had it taken him to chip away at Yami, at the only proud creature he usually dared defy him? What had been the price paid for a king, for the glittering monarch to be brought down to earth in perhaps the crudest and most sensual way? How much paid for the net to snatch a spirit? Anzu wanted to know. She would have gladly paid it herself.


The fog got thicker and Anzu felt like sinking to the ground and just…just giving up. She was wet and cold and miserable, and Yugi – both sides of him – was quite, quite lost. And yet her world – why was her world so small? It had always focused around Yugi. 'Yugi'. He who chased away the confusion and the darkness and the clouds and made her feel so great and so small at the same time. He who was as insubstantial as the wind, and to whom she was as inconsequential as perhaps a fly who landed on arm, friend or not.

Anzu choked back a sob, far too aware of Shizuka's concerned gaze looking her way. She could see it, in her mind's eye, skin gleaming in the moonlight, sweat-soaked, sliding over one another, cloth dragged reluctantly over hips, over legs. A gasp – pain -, tears hastily checked, only a few droplets staining already damp skin, trailing down a satin cheek to mussed hair spread out over expensive pillows. The air would be moist, heated, broken only by soft moans, a low hiss as fingers dug just a little too deep into skin –

Anzu had to wonder, if Kaiba were to pull off his trenchcoat, take off his long-sleeved concealing shirt, would there be a row of crescent moons along his shoulders? Five either side of his neck.

It was too much – too much –

Did Kaiba only keep his victories for the bedroom? Against the King of Games, surely he could win no place else…

There had been that week, not so long back, when all Yami and Yugi had worn was high-collared jumpers – strangely enough it had coincided with those few days when Kaiba's cheek had had that lovely stinging imprint of a hand upon it… At the time, the Puzzle Bearers had said they'd been cold. At the time, Kaiba had said he'd been assaulted. At the time, no-one had thought anything about it. But now…

Maybe Yami had been the one to leave the slap. Maybe Yugi. Maybe one felt taken advantage of, abused in some way. Maybe Kaiba had bitten once too hard in that strange hot anger-passion he seemed to share with his 'rival' and left a dark mark against a long, smooth neck. Anzu somehow just knew Yami would hate to be marked, to be claimed in any way.

(Maybe that was what hurt the most, that Yami would have had to have fallen willingly.)

She knew Yugi would've slapped Kaiba if he'd felt Yami had been injured… Oh, but how dearly Anzu suddenly wished she had been the one to do all the slapping by herself!!

"Anzu…?" Shizuka had stepped off her swing, crossed so that she could kneel in front of Anzu in the dirt, eyes repentant. "Anzu, I'm sorry, I never meant -"

"You never did anything, Shizuka." Anzu's reply was dull.

"I did, I did! I said something stupid, and – Anzu, oh, I'm sorry – I know you like him -" Shizuka reached out to take one of her limp hands in her own, contrite.

"It's nothing to do with you." Anzu bit her lip, slowly raising her head to look at the other girl. "Don't apologise for it. What they've done…" A glance to the engrossed boys, all of them dueling or watching the duel, "if they've done it… They did it themselves."

"But Yugi -"

Ah, Yugi. Poor, precious Yugi. Where was he in all this? He surely couldn't be blind to what was going on, to the devastating train wreck of a…a relationship between Yami and Kaiba. Their passion flared so brightly it would end up burning them both, with Yugi inevitably caught between the clashing and mingling of twin infernos.

"Don't worry about it, Shizuka."

It's…not our concern.

"But Anzu -" Shizuka looked wounded, tearful, and for an instant Anzu looked at the other girl and realised just how pretty she'd become.

Smiling a little, a lump still in her own throat, Anzu raised their entwined hands to brush some of Shizuka's hair back off of her face, press a fond kiss to the younger girl's temple. "Don't worry about it."

Shizuka swallowed at the actions, tear droplets still clinging to her lashes. "It hurts." Not a question.

"Yes."

"I'm sorry."

"It's not your fault."

"He's an idiot." Anzu laughed. Shizuka gave her a trembling smile, "I mean it; he is."

"If you say so…" Anzu raised her free hand to brush it through Shizuka's auburn hair, liking the way the strands moved beneath her fingers, soft as silk. Shizuka sighed at the action, taking a breath and closing her eyes –

And then Shizuka had got to her feet and was kissing her, and the girl's lips were sweet, like sugar – like the frosting on the cake she'd no doubt eaten from the picnic before. And it was odd, to Anzu, but she didn't mind, and it was comforting and –

The kiss was so very like Shizuka. Chaste, and saccharine.


Tears clung to Anzu's lashes and she knew it wasn't just the fog anymore. The fog was cold and the droplets running down her face were warm and salty, and her world was small and lonely and miserable, and he couldn't see anymore.

"Anzu?" A hand laid itself on her arm.

"Yugi?" Anzu turned, almost expecting to see the boy –

Shizuka. Jounouchi's little sister. What on earth-?

"I'm sorry." The other girl bent down to the ground where Anzu sat, wrapping her arms around the brunette's neck and hugging tightly. Her perfume smelled of flowers.

A little confused but liking the hug all the same, Anzu hugged her back. "It's…not your fault?"

Later, somewhere, the sun came out, and the fog began to get burned away.


There was a lull in the comments made from the spectators of the duel, and Yami glanced up from the cards in front of him to find Jou, Otogi and Honda with their mouths open, gaping at-

What?

A little surprised Yami turned away from the duel, following the line of his friends' eyes over to where –

Shizuka and…Anzu? On the swings. Kissing. Thought stopped about there.

…What?

"Your move." Kaiba seemed irritated the attention wasn't on him, that everyone was looking at the two girls on the swings. Yami ignored him.

"Shizuka!" Jounouchi looked flabbergasted. He made as if to approach his sister, but Otogi laid a restraining hand on his arm. Shizuka had looked up at him at the shout, and his words carried clearly across to her he spoke them so loudly. "Sis, I never knew -" he halted, unsure of what to say. "I never knew," he repeated rather lamely. Honda stood speechless at his side.

"Come on." Shizuka withdrew from the kiss with Anzu, voice soft so only the one beside her could hear her as she tugged at the other girl's hand. "Let's go get some ice-cream or something."

Still a little taken aback Anzu nodded. She guessed they had some things to discuss if Shizuka could just randomly up and kiss her, and so she found herself walking past their friends, along the path and –

"Anzu!" Yami had stood suddenly in his seat, cards fluttering in the breeze as he abandoned his hand to the table. Kaiba reached out a palm to take his wrist but the spirit jerked his arm out of the brunet's grasp, scowling when the other tried to repeat the action. He left the table to run after the two girls.

Wait, I -

"Yes?" Anzu turned around to speak to him, Shizuka's grip still firm in her own.

"Anzu, I -" The Pharaoh was a little breathless after his sprint. Behind him Anzu could see Kaiba standing at the picnic table glaring at her, the expression in his infamous pretty blue eyes murderous. "Just – I – Anzu." Yami seemed a little helpless, exotic and lovely and able to do little more than repeat her name. It was quite ego-boosting.

"I need to go now, Pharaoh." Anzu kept her tone light, but she couldn't help but feel the tiniest amount of jubilation at the look of utter consternation in the Egyptian male's eyes. "Shizuka and I are getting ice-cream. See you later."

"Anzu…?"

The girl didn't reply. As Anzu walked off she knew Kaiba was still glaring daggers in her back, having heard him leave the picnic table and go to Yami's side. His pride no doubt rankled at being passed over. Anzu heard him say something scathing to Yami and the spirit angrily retort something back – the words were indistinct due to distance, but by the furious tones both of them used it was clear they were both royally pissed off with each other. Anzu had to wonder whose house Yami would be staying at that night…

I wonder if -

Shizuka gave her hand a squeeze and Anzu turned to smile at her, brushing back some of the other girl's lovely long hair so she could see Shizuka's face better. This would be interesting…

But I still love -

Anzu had to wonder, after the events that had just happened at the park, whose house Yami would be staying at that night. Certainly not Kaiba's.

I can't help but wonder -

And then the ice-cream parlour came into view and Shizuka smiled brilliantly at her, and Anzu threw aside her thoughts for the time. Abandoned them, for a little while, so she could concentrate on Shizuka, leaving her room only to talk with the other – pretty – girl, and wonder one thing. And that one thing was very much not concerned with handsome Pharaohs, arrogant CEOs or even the male species in general. Really, it was more practical, and a much better topic to think about.

I wonder what kind of ice-cream I'll have?